Film

The Rise and Rise of Bitcoin Is a Circle-Jerk for Bitcoin Zealots

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Who are bitcoins for? If you go by stereotype, it’s narcissistic libertarians who see themselves as visionaries punished for their daring individuality by a tyrannical government whose raison d’être is to stamp out personal freedom wherever it can because, uh, for the heck of it, I guess.

Nicholas Mross confirms the cliché in The Rise and Rise of Bitcoin, a circle-jerk for bitcoin zealots who speak primarily in self-deluded Silicon Valley PR drivel. Mross’s brother Dan is described by his wife as “chang[ing] the world and mak[ing] it better” because he hosts a bitcoin server in his basement. “It’s the smartest people in the room that are the most excited about this,” declare the Winklevoss twins, who just happen to own 1 percent of all bitcoins.

The doc divides the world into two kinds of people: the prophets and the rubes. At a New Hampshire convention, Dan sips from his coffee, smacks his lips, and sighs, “Tastes much better when bought with bitcoins.” Alternating between talking-head interviews and animated PowerPoint presentations, Rise and Rise does offer fascinating details when it suspends its relentless cheerleading to chronicle the online currency’s mysterious origins, sensational growth, and troubling use within less wholesome industries (e.g., money laundering, gambling, drug sales, theft of bitcoins).

Though the Mross brothers cop to the currency’s checkered history, the film never offers a serious exploration of bitcoiners’ naïveté or regulation-phobia. Thus, rather than the currency itself, the film’s most compelling subject ends up being the separatist psychology of its self-regarding fanatics.

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